web analytics
August 20, 2014 / 24 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



The Diaspora Has Failed!


Father and son studying in Hevron

Father and son studying in Hevron

Yesterday, my wife and I visited the yeshiva high school in Maale Hever, where one of our sons will be learning next year. The settlement is located on the edge of the Judean Desert about ten minutes south of Hevron. As we were driving, I remembered back some 30 years ago to my first trip to Israel, how I was blown away by the biblical scenery along this very same road to the City of our Forefathers. The vineyards of Efrata, the terraced landscapes, the holiness shining off the hills, the realization that King David herded his sheep, here, in these very fields, all filled me with the overwhelming understanding, like a bolt of lightning in the darkness, that if I wanted to sincerely embrace a new life of Torah, as Torah was meant to be lived, in all of its freedom, pride, and holy beauty, then Eretz Yisrael was the “Super Bowl” for a serious Jew.

It is impossible to describe the feeling of a visit to Hevron, where we stopped on our way back to Yerushalayim. It’s a little like visiting your mom and dad after a very long absence. This is where our Nation all started. Not in Brooklyn. Not in Los Angeles. Here in Hevron, the history of our Nation begins, in the field of Machpelah, which remains today just as it was when Avraham purchased it. It is impossible to describe the transcendental feeling in the Tomb of the Patriarchs when you recite the Blessing of Avraham at the beginning of the Amidah prayer, and you are standing, trembling with awe and joy, with the realization that Avraham Avinu is here alongside you, with Yitzhak and Yaacov, here, in Hevron, where all prayers gather from all over the world to receive our father Avraham’s blessing before traveling on to Jerusalem, just a short drive down the road.

After praying, I sat with one of my sons and learned the Parsha with him, here in Hevron, where Jewish education all started, feeling that we were a living part of tradition, carrying the mission of the Jewish People forward, educating my son to be a proud Jew in the Land of our forefathers.

This week’s Torah portion of “Bechutotei” states with crystal clear clarity, again and again, that the exile is a curse and a punishment. It equates the exile with a terrible and frightening disease. Its language is brutal and horrific, leaving no room for misunderstanding. Exile from Eretz Yisrael is the worst punishment that can befall the Jewish People.

Given this terrible predicament, the task of Diaspora Jewry was to survive the exile and prepare the wandering and homeless Jewish community for its awaited return to the Land of Israel. The goal of returning to Israel is emphasized in the Torah, and in the visions of our Prophets again and again, more than any other theme. For nearly 2000 years, we prayed and dreamed about returning to Zion. Then something went terribly wrong. When the State of Israel was established, and we finally had the chance to return home to our Land, the vast majority of Jewish communities in the West turned their backs on the opportunity. Instead of wanting to escape the exile, they chose to stay. In defiance of the clear promises of the Torah, the Prophets, and 2000 years of prayers and dreams, in defiance of the clear discernible fact that God was gathering His outcasts back to Zion, and miraculously rebuilding the new State of Israel into one of the superpowers of the world, the Diaspora communities in the West decided to remain where they were, living amongst the gentiles in foreign lands. Instead of rushing to rebuild Israel, and take part in the long-awaited Redemption that was unfolding for everyone to see, they continued to build and strengthen their bastions in golus. After 2000 years of yearning, when the time came to return, they got cold feet. Yes, with their money, they helped a great deal. Out of love for our homeland and concern for the Jews who were rebuilding it, they reach deep into their pockets and gave. They exerted political pressure on Israel’s behalf. But in the matter of coming themselves, by and large, they failed to heed the call and join the hundreds of thousands of secular pioneers, Sefardi Jews, Yemenite Jews, and Holocaust survivors who were returning to Israel, in accord with ancient prophesies, age-long prayers, and the eternal command of the Torah.

In my humble opinion, with all of its institutions, organizations, synagogues, day schools, and Jewish newspapers, in this important matter, Diaspora Jewry has failed. Yes, for most of the long and dark exile, it waged a mighty and glorious battle, against all odds, to preserve Jewish traditions and keep the light burning, but when the gateway was opened to return to our homeland, it balked. Its task was to keep the remnant of our nation intact until we could return home to Zion, and when the time came, it neglected to get on the boat. Instead of sending their children on aliyah to Israel – they sent checks. Instead of coming to live here – they came for a week-long visit (all 20% of them – the others haven’t bothered to come at all.) And in obvious punishment for their preferring to remain amongst the goyim, assimilation is rising and rising at an unstoppable rate, a hundred thousand Jews per year! The Birthright program is noble indeed, but you cheapen the Land of Israel when you bill it as a 10-day tour. The real birthright of these kids is to live in Israel, not merely to visit. Visiting Israel won’t prevent interfaith marriages. Living here will!

All of the directors and presidents of the Jewish organizations and federations and committees and leagues and unions who didn’t and still don’t call upon their members to pack up and go, they all should be replaced with braver souls. With the scourge of intermarriage decimating our ranks, all of the rabbis who didn’t and still don’t urge their congregations to go en mass to Israel should read through the Torah once again. True, for mature people who are long settled in their ways, the challenge of aliyah is not easy, but any Jewish parent who doesn’t exhort his children to leave the galut and build his or her future in Israel betrays his true duty as a Jewish parent. Every Jewish leader in the Diaspora who doesn’t pour all of his energies into rallying his constituents to make aliyah fails as a Jewish leader. BECAUSE THE WHOLE GOAL OF THE DIASPORA WAS TO SURVIVE THE EXILE AND PREPARE THE JEWS FOR THE DAY WHEN WE COULD RETURN HOME TO ISRAEL – and that became possible on a mass scale 64 years ago with the establishment of Medinat Yisrael!

Living a life of Torah in Israel is the goal of the Torah, of our Prophets, and the goal of our prayers. The Diaspora isn’t meant to last forever. The curse isn’t supposed to be extended and embraced. We are meant to come home.

But when the opportunity arose, something went wrong, went wrong, went wrong, went wrong, went wrong, went wron, went wro, went wr, went w, went, wen, we, w……….

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." For the past several years, he has written a popular and controversial blog at Arutz 7. A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

30 Responses to “The Diaspora Has Failed!”

  1. נופיה שם טוב says:

    Again Rav Fishman hits the nail on the head.

  2. Tzvi, as much as I support your message, I think we have to have very modest expectations of its effect on the American Jewish public. Most of them simply don't want to hear it. But if your message reaches the heart of even one Jew in America, then all of your hard work will have paid off.

  3. Cori Widen says:

    Birthright, who he says 'cheapens' the land of Israel has undoubtedly inspired far more Jews to make aliyah than Tzvi, who continuously uses offensive platitudes to insult would-be or could-be olim. What Birthright- and many others- seem to know is that you don't inspire by means lambasting the only thing that many Jews know. Sorry. Takes more creativity and *respect* for your fellow Jews than that. :::end rant:::

  4. Cory, at first I thought that's what he said too, but if you read carefully, he says that while Birthright is a "noble" effort, viewing Israel as merely a Birthright trip is what cheapens the land. So I think he's off the hook…

  5. Actually, Tzvi often writes in such a way that if you don't read it carefully, you can easily assume that he's trashing something, when in reality he takes care to juxtapose statements of respect for individuals/organization/ideas with sharp criticisms of wider problems.

  6. Cori Widen says:

    I re-read it— I still think that his general approach is to emphasize the concept of the diaspora as punishment. While I understand (and believe) the textual context for this, it simply does not inspire. People like us can read and nod in agreement, but the people who have yet to come here read it, get offended, feel even more isolated from Judaism/Zionism. That's how it always goes.

  7. נופיה שם טוב says:

    Cori Widen BUT the diaspora IS a punishment. Aside from that, lately, there have been reports of anarchist anti israel activists getting on birthright trips so they can stay over for free and cause trouble. Many of the not even Jewish but forging documents. I'll look for the link.

  8. Cori Widen says:

    You don't need to look for the link- you're missing my point. I said that I understand and believe what he says about diaspora. I'm saying that saying it over and over again only isolates the very people that we are trying to inspire.

  9. Liad Bar-el says:

    Cori Widen – Tzvi is a strong supporter of Birthright. He has hosted many Birthright individuals at his house for Shabbat dinner. Everybody leaves with a much greater inspiration of Judaism and for the Land of Israel. Tzvi’s house has a long list for Birthright people to get his invite. Maybe you should be invited also. In fact, I’ve been trying for years.:-)

  10. The diaspora is not coming to Israel for a reason. Actually for so many reasons. Instead of reproaching it, I would try to understand why. It is obvious that everything is much more complicated, and it is not just stupidity or stubborness. Millions of Jews cannot be wrong!

  11. Tzvi Fishman says:

    Millions of Jews were wrong when they chose to stay in Europe before the Holocaust, even after people like Rabbi Kook and Zev Jabotinsky warned them. There is a blindness that sets in when it comes to leaving the exile for Israel, just like what happened with the Spies in the Wilderness who were the leaders of the tribes, but they led the people astray by not wanting to come to Israel. The great Sage, the Gaon of Vilna speaks about this in his writings.

  12. Tzvi Fishman says:

    Anton, I suppose the hundreds of thousands of Diaspora Jews who are marrying gentiles cannot be wrong either!

  13. Bet Tefillah says:

    Cori, with all due respect, the Diaspora has not failed it is we who have failed. We have failed to understand the message of the Diaspora. The exile is more than a punishment, it is a learning tool. What do we learn from it? We learn that we are in fact different and separate and that the nations see us that way — always! We learn that we are not truly free until we are under G-d's protection, because over the last 2000 years we have seen time and again how G-d has punished us and yet has not let us completely perish as he promised.

    When I first started reading Tzvi's blogs I was insulted. I too live in the Diaspora. A little background first and I'll get to the point. I learned in Yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel in the early 80's. I was very young and did not appreciate the full significance of where I was. I was afraid and lonely. I left Israel and came back to the US, back to my mother's house. As it was the early 1980's the economy was bad and I stayed in the Diaspora to help my mom with her finances. I live here still to this day. Back to the point: As I was saying, at first I was insulted by Tzvi's stance that we should all return to Israel or we are not doing the Will of G-d. I am shomer shabbas, keep Kosher, wear Tzitizit and Tefillin, daven and so on. I even opened a shul here in the town where I live in hopes of bringing unaffiliated Jews back to Judaism. So when I read Tzvi's posts I was a little mystified and thought of all the frum Jews I know and thought how could he be right? At first I didn't think much about his opinion. Then I realized as I studied Torah that Tzvi in fact correct.

    Tzvi is right because we are commanded to keep 613 commandments. We cannot keep a lot of them outside of Israel. They are attached to the land. They are dependent upon it. All of our efforts outside of the land of Israel, while commendable do not really count. If we choose not to return to Israel we are in effect disobeying G-d and ignoring one of His foremost precepts, that is we are to live in the land.

    Tzvi is not wrong because he is trying to get our attention. This is a very important lesson for us all. To be really Jewish we MUST live in the land of Israel. The land that G-d Himself swore to our fathers. The land that Moses and his entire generation was not allowed to enter. The land that is attached to Torah and Mitzvah. This is the only place the Jew belongs. He cannot purposefully live outside of Israel and call himself a good Jew because in reality he is ignoring the most important thing. The thing without which we would not even exist, that thing is the land of Israel itself. B'Shalom, Isaac

  14. Anonymous says:

    Excellent and important article. Instead of trying to defend a presence in exile one should read objectively and see the truth here. Exile is not "only" a tragedy for the Jewish People. Our Sages tell us that whenever the Jews are exiled, the Divine Presence is exiled with them (Talmud Bavli, Megila 29). We mourn over the exiled Shechina – the inability of His good to be revealed in all creation – even if the Jews are content in that exile. The exile is thus considered a chillul Hashem (Ezekiel 36). If we are really concerned about His name and the good of all mankind we really must come home! Thanks Tzvi

  15. RABBI, I WOULD LIKE YOU TO LIST IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE THE SHORTCOMINGS OF THOSE MITZVAHS THAT CANNOT BE OBSERVED OUTSIDE ISRAEL. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST NO,NOS AS TO LIVING IN THE DIASPORA, ACCORDING TO THE 613.

  16. Bet Tefillah says:

    Avrohom, the Mitzvot have no shortcomings. It is we who are falling short. The idea here is that there are certain things that are specifically attached to the land that cannot be observed elsewhere. Many of these have to do with growing selling and eating crops. Food, making and eating bread. Giving G-d what is His. We are simply not able to perform these mitzvot outside of Israel as that is the place from where we are commanded to do them.

    The order of importance? How can one discern which of G-d's commands is more important than another? That is precisely the thing that is separating the diaspora Jews from those in Israel. It is the complacency in thinking that being outside the land of Israel is as good as being inside the land. This is precisely what Tzvi is trying to fight against! I applaud his efforts. It is certainly an uphill battle. If there are any doubts about the importance of living in Israel from G-d's perspective, see what he did as the people of Israel railed against the land in the story of the spies. See that he was very angry with them and gave them no rest.

    For 40 years our fathers wandered in the wilderness until they all died. This is a grave sin. I don't pretend to know which mitzvah is the most and which is the least important. They are all important. Is one life worth more than another? Is one Jew better than another? How can one place a value on that which G-d told us is important? Is one sin lesser than another? Can you list the order of importance for each sin? We have to stop thinking in terms of manifestation of reward and punishment. Rather all punishment is a cleansing and all reward is life giving. We do not know the value of every mitzvah. I would never G-d forbid attempt such a thing.

  17. Matityahu Ben-David says:

    Tzvi Fishman is right on some things. He does portray the Jewish world properly in the diaspora the best by being blunt and saying they only worship the Egel HaZahav. It's absolutely sickening that even the "orthodoxy" are following this false god as well. Just go to 5 towns! One big smorgasbord on who can be the most materialistic, egotistical, piece of trash.

  18. Matityahu Ben-David says:

    I think Tzvi Fishman should write an article on the JAP in diaspora. Larry David portrayed her properly in the "ski episode" of Curb. You know something is exact if Philip Roth, Tzvi Fishman, and Rav Kahane ALL Agree on one thing: The Diaspora Jew.

  19. Matityahu Ben-David says:

    Maybe Elliot Sharabi can write an edition representing the London version of this group!

  20. Matityahu Ben-David says:

    As Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel knows. I will by "drowned" here in the Galuth for other reasons!

  21. Matityahu Ben-David says:

    Tzvi, a big reason these Jews marry shiksas is because the "parents" of these Jewish girls failed to raise their women with any proper dignity what so ever. Raising selfish, snobby, princesses will make any sane man run. I feel for my brothers who grabbed a shiksa babe, but I hold the Jewish women's parents responsible for preaching that their daughter is ENTITLED to live in a gold palace with servants and shouldn't have to work a day in her life. PisdetZ!

  22. Matityahu Ben-David says:

    …oh, the reason why I never ran…is because I'M NOT SANE!

  23. I do not think it helps to fight among ourselves about this matter. Not everyone has the same interpretation of Judaism and its meaning for today's world (or yesterday's or tomorrow's for that matter). In my opinion certain aspects of our religion have changed fundamentally from biblical times and, in that sense, there is "no going back" even if we" go back" to Israel in the geographical sense. Even if all Jews lived in Israel and we rebuilt the Temple, would we actually go back to sacrificing animals? Would we let all the land lie uncultivated every seventh year? Would we remit all debts every 50th year and return all property to its "orginal" owners (whoever that might be). Some things have changed forever. As an American Jew, I am proud of Judaism as it exists in the world today both in Israel and elsewhere. I feel that all Jews are interconnected (even above the ways in which all human beings are interconnected) regardless of where they live. Our still dispersed Jewish civilization is very great, though imperfect. Perhaps in the long run the route to a closer approach to perfection does lie with our eventual consolidation within Eretz Yisrael. But who knows the time frame for that? Is it 10 years or is it 10,000 years? I don't know and I don't think Tzvi Fishman knows either. There is work for us to do in both within Israel and outside of Israel.

  24. Stephen, in answer to your questions, Yes, Yes, and Yes. The whole point of Torah is that it is eternal, in contrast to the whims of human cultural mores. We can fine tune the details, but the basics will always remain the yes. You can go ahead and start a new religion, (many people have done so successfully) but the Torah has no expiration date.

  25. (i meant to say "the basic will always remain the same")

  26. I do not know about you, but something seems terribly wrong about the arguments like "galut Jews are wrong, and I'm right, 'cause I know what is right for every Jew to do!" What a chutzpah!

  27. Liad Bar-el says:

    We were scattered all over the world. We did not have a land, state, government and lived as individuals in foreign lands. Judaism became focused on the individual and on his private service to Hashem. It was expected that the Sanctification of Hashem was from rabbis and Tzaddikim. The Hasidic movement changed this somewhat by teaching that even the ordinary Jew, in his small private life, could sanctify Hashem but they still focused on the individual. Rav Kook had a broader perspective on Judaism as a nation. Like any other nation, it is dependent on a homeland as its foundation. We lost this nation status in our Exile from our Land. The greatest Sanctification of Hashem was also lost by this Exile. The establishment of the nation of Eretz Yisrael was the life-goal and teaching of Moshe rabenu, Joshua and the great Kings of Israel. Judaism was and is much more than an individual’s private mitzvoth. It is the constitution of the nation of our Land. The true and greatest Sanctification of Hashem can only be achieved through the return of the nation to the Land and to our true Torah life. The Torah and Am Israel only reach true expression in their union with Eretz Yisrael thus bringing the mitzvah of living in Israel into a clearer light. The Ramban established a fundamental Halachic ruling that living in the Land of Israel and conquering the Land are commandments of the Torah which apply in every age. (Sefer HaMitzvot Command #4) Possessing the Land is a mitzvah and the opposite is a rebellion against Hashem. (Torat Eretz Yisrael pg 164).

    The Ramban and Rambam both left to Israel. Rambam was forced by the tough circumstances to go to Egypt but he wrote in his “Letter Concerning Forced Conversion”: “The obligation to fulfill the commandments is not dependent on the coming of the Moshiach. Rather, we are obligated to busy ourselves with Torah and precepts, and to strive to fulfill everything we can….” COME HOME NOW!

  28. Matityahu Ben-David says:

    How come the peanut gallery here doesn't debate my comments? Were ALL my comments on the money? Tzvi Fischman please chime in here!

  29. Liad Bar-el says:

    Stephen Berman: “Even if all Jews lived in Israel and we rebuilt the Temple, would we actually go back to sacrificing animals?” Yes, Stephen Berman, when the Temple is rebuilt, we would actually go back to sacrificing animals. Do sacrifices seem repugnant, pagan, brutal and primitive?

    Maimonides writes (Guide for the Perplexed, 3:32) that animal sacrifice dates back to the most ancient times, having been a common form of worship from the earliest days of man's need for religious expression and experience in an effort to come as close as possible to G-d. Thus the Torah records the sacrifices of Cain, Abel, and Noah. The idea of sacrifices may seem difficult to understand and accept today, it is the commandment of the Holy One. The Hebrew word for "sacrifice" (korban, le-hakriv) is from the same root as "to come near, to approach. . . . to become closely involved in a relationship with someone." The English word “sacrifice” (Loss, Deprivation, etc) does not adequately render the meaning of the Hebrew word korban of man’s relationship with G-d as coming close. The goal of the Temple sacrifices is nothing less than the aim of dedication human life to a higher sphere of awareness…closer to the Creator and the source of all life. The Temple sacrifice is not an idea of giving something up or losing something of value but rather a striving for nearness to G-d.

    There is very much more to learn concerning sacrifices and would invite everyone to contact this site: http://www.templeinstitute.org/sacrificial_service.htm

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
Current Top Story
Israelis taking cover in Nitzan under a barrage of mortar shells. The general consensus here is that this siruation must be stopped.
Live Updates: Barrages on Ashkelon and Ashdod (8:23am)
Latest Blogs Stories
UNHRC war crimes panel head William Schabas - Not a good Schabas

But the real culprit is William Schabas, who by comparison makes Richard Goldstone look like a saint

South Africa of Flag

“The Jewish board of deputies, who are complicit, will feel the wrath of the People of SA with the age old biblical teaching of an eye for an eye.”

Doug Goldstein

Discussion on recent changes to Social Security benefits and how it will effect you.

bibi release

I do not understand why Bibi or anyone else (Obama) would ever contemplate accepting any terms by an organization that states loud and clear their goal of Israel’s destruction.

It’s the 4th time in 5 years Maccabi Haifa has traveled to America to play against NBA competition.

The media dumped on the “Lehava” people as extremist – racist and should mind their own business.

What is the point of having our own state when it cooperates with those who are against us?

It was the “first family event I missed due to aliyah.”

Antisemitism, stupidity, fear, or exaggeration?

During Operation Protective Edge, IDF soldiers were faced with deadly risks in the Gaza Strip. Sixty four soldiers were killed and many more were wounded in combat. This is the story of one IDF commander who put his life in danger to rescue a soldier kidnapped by Hamas. Lt. Eitan, 23, joined the elite unit […]

I am a right wing religious Jewish settler and I HATE seeing pictures of kids in Gaza who are dying or suffering because of this war.

Doug speaks with World Chess Cahmpion Magnus Carlsen.

If they weren’t true they would be funny!

Professor Aumann: Instead of hitting the opponent… step back and allow the opponent to hit himself

A letter from a survivor who recounts the horrors of the 1929 pogrom in Hebron.

Do Keynesian theories about government spending still apply today?

More Articles from Tzvi Fishman
    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/the-diaspora-has-failed/2012/05/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: